DeborahL wrote:Are cut pieces what you'll plant in spring, or do only whole ones get planted? (I really don't know !)
All those pieces the tiller cut up will probably rot and go to the compost unless I cook them today.
Sweet potatoes are like other type potatoes about late February or early March potatoes in the pantry will have sprouts. Sweet potatoes always have sprouts only on one end of the potato. I cut the end off with the sprouts and plant the end in the soil. You can get a head start by planting the ends in a pot of soil in the house other wise just plant the ends in the garden after frost has past.
Our last frost is usually about April 20 but some years we have no frost at all in April and some years we get late frost the first week of May. We get lots of rain in the spring it is sometimes hard to till and get the garden ready to plant but potatoes can be planted with no tilling. I like to plant potatoes about the April 1st. I push some soil to the side then drop in the potato piece with the sprouts then cover it up. If the weather man says we are going to get frost on a certain night then I cover the plants in the even then uncover then in the morning. Sometimes I only have to cover the plants 5 or 6 times during the whole month. This gives the plants about a 1 month head start.
Our weather here is weird and different from one year to the next. It rains just about every day from March to June and when the rain stops the temperature shoots up to the 90s the first or second week of June and then its in the 100s by late June all summer until late August. Most potatoes like cool weather but not sweet potatoes they like it HOT and if it does not rain all summer the sweet potatoes don't care.
I have been planting only 6 plants and thats probably too many but better safe than sorry. You need a designated area for the plant like a spot 12'x12' or 20'x20' or 20'x25' or what every works for your garden space. A small spot like 12'x12' only needs 2 or 3 plants. A larger space like 20'x20' about 5 plants. 25'x25' about 6 or 7 plants. A small spot like 12'12' I usually rake the vines clock wise in a circle to keep the vines in that small area. A larger spot is too much work to rake the vines so I mow around them with the lawn mower and cut off all the vines that try to grow outside the area I want them to stay in. The vines will grow 30 to 40 ft long in all directions like the spokes of a wheel so plant all your plants 3 ft apart in the center of your 25'x25' spot. You can also plant the plants in a row 3 ft apart then try to keep them all in a spot about 18'x25'.
Nice thing about sweet potatoes is, you don't have to do anything they take care of themself. The vines will growd out all grass and weeds you never have to hoe or till. Every time you mow your yard mow around the sweet potatoes too. When frost kills the vines dig up the potatoes. The potatoes will show you where they are its like a RED FLAG the soil will be all pushed up like a little volcano. The mother plants will make the most and largest potatoes and the vines will sprout roots and make smaller satelite potatoes. Sometimes there is only 1 satelite potato, sometimes 3 or 4, sometimes 6 or 7.
The hardest part of this is digging them up. If you have plenty of compost material in the soil just pull the vines and it pulls the potatoes right out of the soil.
I like to plant sweet potatoes because they are so easy to grow. They grow themself. I don't like baked sweet potatoes but I like sweet potato pie, sweet potato casserole, and I like to make sweet potato french fries.
Next year I am going to plant corn, okra, peppers, tomatoes in a 30 x 40 spot. I am going to plant the sweet potatoes in the middle of that spot and let the vines take over the whole area for ground cover. The vines should crowd out all the grass and weeds and I should not have to hoe or till the garden all summer. This will be my first time to try this so I hope it works.